I left off my last blog by promising to discuss the impact of this new information on the phrase “I come from Julius” and the Jello box top.
Walter Schneir notes in Final Verdict that the KGB files as transcribed by The Haunted Wood’s authors “puts the Jello box affair in a startling new perspective.” A KGB file dated February 17, 1945 stated that a recognition signal for that fateful future meeting between Gold and the Greenglasses had not yet been decided upon. The KGB removed Julius from active duty six days later and cut him out of the loop.
Instead, Ruth Greenglass was given the task of creating the recognition signal. In others words Ruth created the Jello box, not Julius! Imagine how my parents felt sitting in the courtroom listening to David and Ruth Greenglass swear that Julius cut the box top in half, gave one half to David and said the courier would have the other half, knowing that they had not been involved in any of this.
No wonder Gold and Greenglass had to be brought together to invent the code phrase “I come from Julius.” Julius was no longer involved when Gold and the Greenglasses met, no one was coming from him, and the KGB would never have permitted either Gold or the Greenglasses to use a code phrase with the first name of an agent they believed had been compromised by the FBI.
These new insights demolish the government’s case that Julius Rosenberg was an atomic spy. All connection between Julius Rosenberg, and the Gold - Greenglass June 1945 meeting at which the sketch related to the bomb's triggering device was supposedly transmitted, has been severed. The September 1945 meeting never took place. And neither of my parents had anything to do with the December 1945 rendezvous at which the Greenglasses – not Julius – gave the sketch the government called "the secret of atomic bomb" to the Soviet Union.
I find this new information staggering. First, it changes my view of my parents’ attorney Emanuel Bloch. His defense at the trial was that the Greenglasses were trying to pin what they did on my parents to save themselves. For decades I thought this was absurd. I was convinced in 1965 by Walter and Miriam’s first book on the case, Invitation to an Inquest, that the government had forced the Greenglasses to make up a crime that never happened, and that Manny Bloch missed the enormity of the fraud perpetrated by the government.
Manny was right and the Schneirs, as well as my brother and I, were wrong. Even my parents’ co-defendant Morton Sobell, who repeatedly said he didn’t really blame the Greenglasses because they were weak, was wrong.
It also changes my view of the Greenglasses. Now I realize that they were much more active spies than I had ever dreamed. They actually did it, and pinned what they did on my parents! The Greenglasses are even more reprehensible than I had imagined.
The Greenglasses greater villainy does not absolve the government. The government played an active role in inventing evidence against both my parents. The government knew the Greenglass sketches were of little value, yet continued to portray my parents as master atomic spies, and knowingly executed two people for a crime they did not commit.
Listen to a public radio interview with co-author Miriam Schneir, and Rosenberg son Michael Meeropol, here.
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Dynamite. And damn well written too
I always thought the original Schneir book was wrong.
But the person I don't understand is Morton Sobell.
Thanks for this.
Is there any evidence that the government knew that the Greenglasses were lying?
I'm going to presume that your question is, did the government know that the Greenglasses were lying about the extent of their own involvement in atomic espionage.
There is no evidence to indicate that government prosecutors knew that the Greenglasses were actually pinning on my parents things that the Greenglasses themselves had done on their own.
Doesn't mean that prosecutors or FBI agents didn't know, or that they didn't suspect, but for now this remains an unanswered question.
To be honest, Robby, when I read this I put down my head and sobbed a little. And then I thought a bit about Lillian Gish in Night of the Hunter, that great film that is about the political apocalypse of that time: My soul is humble when I see the way little ones accept their lot. Lord, save little children. The wind blows and the rain's a-cold. Yet they abide...They abide and they endure....Children are humanity's strongest. They abide. Merri
Young as I was (13 or so), I never believed that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were guilty. I went on as many clemency marches as I could manage. I cried when they were executed and I still have trouble not crying when the story comes up.
Having proof that our government was not to be trusted then any more than it is now is a great relief. It shows that I do have some sanity.
Miriam and Walter Schneir, and you and your brother, attacked the credibility of Ronald Radosh, Joyce Milton and Sol Stern years ago, claiming that their research was sloppy, and based on evidence presented by dubious characters like Harry Gold (who Walter Schneir described at a Town Hall Debate as 'a pathological liar', Elizabeth Bentley (the so-called 'Blonde Spy Queen') and others.
Now that it appears that your father was indeed involved in some sort of non-atomic espionage, what do you make of the credibility of these witnesses (Gold, Bentley). And what was the Schneirs' final opinion of these witnesses? How much of Harry Gold's stories are really true? How much of these witnesses' testimonies can be trusted? And was so much of the Radosh/Milton/Stern research 'mean spirited garbage masquerading as historic work' as Walter Schneir commented at the end of the Town Hall debate?
To answer your questions - even though my father was involved in non-atomic espionage, Gold and Bentley's testimony is still untrustworthy, and Walter and Miriam's characterization of Radosh and Milton's book remains essentially correct. However, we now know that both Gold and Bentley, although self-serving liars, told the truth when they said they were spies. If anything, knowing that there is a lot of partial truth involved makes it even more difficult to separate the lies from what really happened. However, I urge you to read Walter and Miriam's new book, it will only take you a few hours (it is short) and it will answer a lot of questions.
What was Ethyl and Julius Rosenberg's background that would lead them to support the USSR in their war effort against the Nazis? Were they Zionists as well as Communists? Did they personally know/believe that FDR and the Allies were not doing enough to save fellow Jews from the gas chambers of Auschwitz and the other Nazi death camps? Did they know personally that FDR refused to order bombing of the railroad tracks leading into the Birkenau/Auschwitz death camp? Why would they have believed that their individual efforts would have any effect on saving a single Jewish life? Did the Rosenbergs personally know of the many Eastern European Jews that fled East and joined the Red Army in its fight against Hitler? I have never read anything about the rationale for the Rosenbergs to spy for the USSR.